The Latest: Trump tweets new support for Iranian protesters
Dec. 31, 2017
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The latest on protests in Iran (all times local):
President Donald Trump is continuing to voice support for protesters in Iran, saying the government there is trying to throttle the demonstrations by cutting off communications.
In a tweet Sunday, Trump says: "Iran, the Number One State of Sponsored Terror with numerous violations of Human Rights occurring on an hourly basis, has now closed down the Internet so that peaceful demonstrators cannot communicate. Not good!"
The public discontent has been fanned by messages sent on the Telegram messaging app, which Iranian authorities blocked Sunday along with the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by tech giant Facebook.
Trump has repeatedly tweeted support for the protesters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized Trump in comments published Sunday. He says Trump "has forgotten that he had called Iranian people 'terrorists' a few months ago."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made his first speech since widespread protests began in the Islamic Republic.
Rouhani said in comments published Sunday night that people have the right to protest, but those demonstrations should not make the public "feel concerned about their lives and security."
Rouhani also criticized U.S. President Donald Trump over his tweets about the protest, saying he "has forgotten that he had called Iranian people 'terrorists' a few months ago."
The Iranian president also acknowledged the public's worries extend beyond economy to corruption allegations and government transparency.
A semi-official news agency in Iran is reporting that police arrested around 200 people during protests in Tehran on Saturday.
The ILNA news agency report on Sunday quoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran, offering the figure.
Nasserbakht said that police arrested those who were planning on rioting and destroying public property.
He also said that around 40 leaders were arrested.
President Donald Trump is again cheering on the protesters in Iran, saying: "The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism."
Trump tweeted Sunday that it looks like the Iranians "will not take it any longer." And he adds: "The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!"
Trump's tweets the previous day angered Iran's government, leading the Foreign Ministry spokesman to say the "Iranian people give no credit to the deceitful and opportunist remarks of U.S. officials or Mr. Trump."
A wave of economic protests is sweeping major cities in Iran. The first deaths occurred overnight when two protesters were killed during clashes at a rally in Doroud
Iran state TV is reporting that authorities have blocked Instagram and the messaging app Telegram.
State TV's website reported the decision Sunday, citing an anonymous source who said it was "in line with maintaining peace and security of the citizens."
The source said: "With a decision by the Supreme National Security Council, activities of Telegram and Instagram are temporarily limited."
Telegram's CEO previously said the app had been blocked for the majority of Iranians.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The CEO of Telegram says Iran is "blocking access ... for the majority of Iranians" after protesters used the popular messaging app to plan and publicize demonstrations.
CEO Pavel Durov made the announcement on Twitter Sunday.
Iranians said the app is now inaccessible by mobile phone networks.
The Telegram app has been used to share videos of the protests, the largest since 2009, and times for new rallies.
Users said Sunday that they could no longer access the app via cellphone networks, though it was still available via Wifi and home internet connections.
Iranian media also reported the disruption.
The Iranian government did not immediately comment.
A semi-official news agency in Iran has quoted a government official as saying two protesters were killed at a rally overnight.
The Mehr news agency reported Sunday that the two protesters were killed in Doroud, in Iran's Lorestan province.
Mehr quoted Habibollah Khojastepour, the security deputy of Lorestan's governor, as saying an illegal gathering in Doroud took place on Saturday night and ignited clashes.
He said "two of our dear Doroudi citizens were killed," without elaborating on the cause of death.
Protests in Iran began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues. The protests have expanded to cities across the Islamic Republic in the days since.
Dozens have been arrested since the protests began.